The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) has announced the successful signing of an agreement with four Nigerian airlines approved for the transportation of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
This disclosure was made by Zikrullah Hassan, Chairman of NAHCON, during a statement released on Tuesday in Abuja.
The statement was issued by Mousa Ubandawaki, the commission’s Deputy Director of Information and Publications.
Last week, the four airlines initially declined to sign the agreement due to the closure of Sudan airspace, which served as a vital route for their operations, amidst the ongoing crisis.
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The airlines involved in the agreement are Max Air (allocated 16,326 pilgrims), Air Peace (11,348), Azman Air (8,660), and Aero Contractors (7,833).
However, the Saudi Arabian designated airline, Flynas, was the only one that signed the agreement to transport 28,515 intending pilgrims to Saudi Arabia.
In response to the new development, Chairman Hassan expressed appreciation for the patriotic fervor and sacrifices displayed by the local airlines in the face of the challenges posed by the Sudan crisis.
He acknowledged the difficulties arising from the closure of Sudan airspace and appealed to the airlines’ conscience and sense of patriotism not to impose additional costs or changes on the pilgrims.
“We are not unmindful of the challenge posed by the closure of the Sudan airspace to your Hajj operation; however, I wish to appeal to your conscience and sense of patriotism not to further burden the pilgrim with additional costs or changes,” he said.
Ado Sanusi, Managing Director of Aero Contractors, acknowledged the plight of pilgrims who had already paid their Hajj fares before the crisis emerged.
He explained that the decision not to initially sign the agreement was driven by logistical and operational needs, emphasizing their commitment to ensuring an uninterrupted operation.
Similarly, Allen Onyema, Chairman of Air Peace, clarified that their request for a review of the transportation agreement with NAHCON was not motivated by exploiting the Sudan crisis for business gains.
He emphasized their concern for the Nigerian pilgrims, many of whom had made personal sacrifices to afford the Hajj expenses.
Onyema stressed that their actions were driven by national pride and a desire not to deprive pilgrims of the opportunity to embark on the journey to the holy land.
“We care for the Nigerian pilgrims many of who we know to have made personal sacrifices in paying for Hajj. We are also mindful of the fact that the pilgrims had already paid before this crisis broke out. We don’t want to deprive them of this opportunity to make the journey to the Holy land. We are doing it for national pride,” he said.
The agreement reached between NAHCON and the Nigerian airlines signifies a significant step forward in ensuring a smooth and efficient transportation process for Nigerian pilgrims embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage.
Despite the challenges posed by the closure of Sudan airspace, the parties involved have demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing the needs and well-being of the pilgrims.